If you’re a car collector wanting a pristine first-generation niche of a plug-in vehicle, head to your Cadillac dealer as ELR production was permanently stopped in February.
The automaker quietly ceased making new ELRs after Cadillac brand president Johan de Nysschen told journalists in late January that Cadillac would not continue to invest in the luxury extended-range electric coupe.
“I plan to continue admiring it as one of the most beautiful cars on four wheels” de Nysschen told reporters during a media drive for Cadillac’s large CT6 large sedan in Los Angeles. “But we don’t plan further investment” [in the ELR].
Reports emanating from this statement in early February interpreted it to mean the just-updated 2016 ELR would stay in production for some undetermined time longer before eventually being phased out.
In fact, it was ended that same month.
Today in an interview, Cadillac Product Communications Manager David Caldwell offered a statement.
“Cadillac ELR production recently concluded. A very small quantity of ELR units remain available at dealers today,” said Caldwell. “The beautifully designed electrified coupe marked an important step in Cadillac’s ongoing expansion. Cadillac remains committed to delivering new technology, including advanced propulsion. Cadillac will soon launch a new Plug-In Hybrid edition of the remarkable new CT6 sedan.
The CT6 PHEV is a faster, larger vehicle, with similar electric range in the mid-30s, and will be imported from China.
It too is projected to sell in limited quantities, though it is expected to be better received than has been the ELR.
Last month the approximately $65,000 ELR sold 95 units, and 357 have been reported this year. Its sales compare favorably with other more-expensive niche cars like the BMW i8 – 305 sold this year, and Mercedes S550 PHEV – 96 sales for 2016, and Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid – 108 sales this year. During all of 2015, Cadillac sold 1,024 ELRs in the U.S.
However as a General Motors product based on the Chevy Volt’s powertrain and chassis, the ELR launched for the 2014 model year has not fared as well as these other vehicles in the court of public opinion.
Consumers and media have more often drawn comparisons between the ELR and the Tesla Model S – observing comparable pricing for a larger vehicle with better performance, and all electric drive. Also the Volt has been compared as a vehicle offering similar efficiency and EV range, if less luxury, and for half the price.
The 2016 Volt further was fully redesigned with 53-miles EV range and better fuel efficiency in hybrid mode while the upscale ELR makes do with a tweaked version of the first-generation Volt’s powertrain.
Aside from these factors, Michigan-based automotive analyst Alan Baum said he thinks the ELR was axed in part because of the complexity of ELR production at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant.
The more profitable and much-higher volume Malibu, Impala, Volt, and CT6 are also produced there, and the ELR adds very little value, he said.
Ironically, the ELR had received performance upgrades for 2016, and a $10,000 lower price from its introduction. Caldwell said he was not entirely sure on the decision process that led to this timing of events. He did observe engineers had plans in the works to update the ELR, so those were done.
Meanwhile, it is onward and upward for Cadillac. de Nysschen has been tasked with revitalizing the brand, and that, said Baum, is what he is in process of doing.
“In the face of a shortage of products relative to his competition, he is trying to increase the cache and price of the products he does have and he has had success in that regard,” said Baum. “The ELR doesn’t do that and he can’t sell it at a price that builds brand value, and thus the product does not fit into the larger scheme of Cadillac.”